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Saturday, April 16, 2011

17th April - Don't dream it's over

This is a day for a rugby blog, so for those who don't know their rucks from their mauls, this isn't a blog for you.

Yesterday, Burton's brief encounter with National League rugby came to an end. They weren't the worst team in the League by a long way. A little more confidence and a couple of ref decisions their way (Hereford at home) and we may have just stayed up. The younger players will know what they have to do when they return, hopefully in a season's time.

The season also ended for our prop Rob. In fact it was the end of his playing career. One of the great characters of the side, he had Burton running through his heart and tattooed on his leg. After beer he could sleep anywhere, and rumour had it that he made his bed in some really unusual places that could incriminate the innocent and the guilty.

Sport has many ways of revealing heroes in many ways and rugby is no different. Josh Lewsey's tackle on Mat Rodgers that broke his ribs and he could not surf properly afterwards, Richard Hill beating the much fancied Ospreys in a Heineken Cup quarter final on one leg three years ago, Dallaglio dragging four Welshmen over the line in the 90's to score a try, the 6 man scrum in Wellington against the All Blacks. Real character defining moments. (Jonny's drop goal owes more to the moments mentioned beforehand so I don't include it). Moments based on will and determination, as much as skill and talent.

Burton yesterday showed much of that will and determination. racing into a 12 point lead, that belied their League position. Malvern pulled back to within 2 points, and in the stand we feared the worst. In other games this year, that would have meant capitulation, and 20 quick points scored against us.

Rob had his moment yesterday. His ageing legs and dodgy knee meant that he was subbed on about 60 minutes. The crowd gave him a suitably warm send off. Malvern were exerting a lot of pressure on our line, and unfortunately we picked up 2 quick yellow cards for killing the ball. As a prop was one of the guilty, Rob had to come back on. The crowd welcomed him back. His first task, to hold up a scrum on his own line. Malvern lost control, ball regained and a kicked clearance. Job well done. Although Malvern attacked again, Burton managed to secure the ball and a series of pick and go's brought Burton down to the Malvern line. Despite the best efforts to engineer a try for Rob, it just wouldn't happen. Malvern gave away a penalty (but no yellow card?) and the captain called for a scrum. (What were you doing Joel?). I had no need to have worried, as the scrum was re -set as Malvern couldn't cope with the pressure, and on the second re-set, the referee awarded a penalty try. The six men of Burton had beaten the eight of Malvern. A penalty try owes so much to the props who engineered the situation. So with the last move of the game, Rob gained 7 points for the team.

If we can bottle those 8 minutes for next season, bring it on now. Rob - enjoy your retirement, and I hope you will come down for a beer now and then - shirt open, tie round your head, rubbing your tummy. That and today will be my endearing images of you.

Don't dream it's over - Crowded House - a New Zealand band who everyone likes but they've never really sold millions. And a link back to the original intention of the blog.

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